Guido Monaco…who knew?

IMG_1897At one point on our trip to Italy, while most of our traveling companions decided to go to Venice, Riitta and I decided instead to visit the city of Arezzo. I’m not quite sure why we picked Arezzo other than it was convenient and seemed a good opportunity to explore a city we knew nothing about. When we arrived at the train station we began walking directly into the city and quickly came to a grassy piazza, which we wrongly assumed was probably the main piazza of the city. In the center of the piazza is a statue of, and dedicated to, Guido Monaco. Somewhere among you reading this are probably a person, maybe even two, who know what Guido Monaco did. We had no clue. My guesses tended to run to his being a political or religious figure. While one of those is somewhat correct, neither is why this particular statue has been erected. To one side of the statue there is a smaller, metal sculpture which tells of Guido Monaco’s accomplishment. I have to admit I was initially incredulous. We turned to the internet capability of our cell phone and did some quick research. What we found confirmed the assertion on the small, metal sculpture.

Then, as we continued our walk into the city, my mind began to put together the implications, the immensity of Guido Monaco’s contribution to our world. I was awestruck! First by his contribution and, secondly, that I had never before heard of him.  It is no exaggeration to say that Guido Monaco’s contribution to human civilization has affected our world as much, or more, than that of any other human being. For centuries his work has touched lives around the world. His accomplishment has provided countless millions with joy, excitement, comfort and inspiration. It has helped us celebrate the good times, make it through the hard times, and, in general, to be happier, healthier, and more complete as individuals and as a species.  Guido Monaco paved the way for us to experience the music of Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Ellington, Basie, Lennon and McCartney, and virtually all of the other great composers past and present.  So what did he do?  He developed, invented if you will, musical notation!

Riitta and I were both initially incredulous of this claim.  Musical notation has been around forever hasn’t it?  Isn’t it as common as the dirt beneath our feet and the air we breathe?  Didn’t it just happen?  Well yes and no.  It happened because Guido Monaco brought it into being.  Wow.

Imagine how much we would be missing if Guido hadn’t done what he did.  Would another person have stepped in to fill the void?  Maybe, who knows?  But the fact is that Guido Monaco did it and we have it and we have been enjoying it a long time.

When I think of all the people that the educational system at the time deemed worthy for me to learn about;  the soldiers, politicians, monarchs, scientists, doctors, and yes, artists and musicians, I am at a loss to think of any of them who has affected my life in a more profound way than Guido Monaco.  It makes me wonder about the value system we use when we decide who’s accomplishments are to be celebrated…  Here’s to you Guido.  Thanks.

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